The National Benefits Hub

Research that Supports Recreation

← Home

Advanced Search

Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity

Key Message

Public parks are critical resources for physical activity in minor- ity communities. Because residential proximity is strongly associated with phys- ical activity and park use, the number and location of parks are currently insuffi- cient to serve local populations well.


Cohen, D. et al. (2007). Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity. American Journal of Public Health, 97(3), 509.


Parks provide places for people to experience nature, engage in physical activity, and relax. We studied how residents in low-income, minority communities use public, urban neighborhood parks and how parks contribute to physical activity.

 In 8 public parks, direct observation was used to document the number, gender, race/ethnicity, age group, and activity level of park users 4 times per day, 7 days per week. 713 park users and 605 area residents living within 2 miles of each park were interviewed.


On average, over 2000 individuals were counted in each park, and about two thirds were sedentary when observed. More males than females used the parks, and males were twice as likely to be vigorously active. Interviewees identi- fied the park as the most common place they exercised. Both park use and exer- cise levels of individuals were predicted by proximity of their residence to the park.

Additional Information

EXSUM | American Journal of Public Health

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

Get Updates By Email